Blues/jazz great Jimmy Witherspoon and I were great friends. Spoon, as he was known, is probably best known for his monster recording (the definitive one) of "Ain't Nobody's Business" which was a #1 R&B Billboard hit in 1949 and stayed in the charts 35 weeks. Spoon was -- in addition to being a great entertainer, a fabulous cook. Once when I visited him he made a huge Southern-style meal like his family used to have when times were good in Arkansas: country ham, red-eye gravy, greens -- and sweet potato pie. Nobody in this world ever made better sweet potato pie than Jimmy Witherspoon.
Once, in the mid-80s, I had to go to Los Angeles for a big gala that a magazine I worked on was throwing. Jimmy was one of the honored guests. The night got late and turned into morning. (All music folks recognize this deal.) We all ate, drank and were merry. I got excessively merry. My plane was to leave at 5:30 AM. At 4:30 AM honored guest Jimmy said, "I think you don't need to count on a cab, kiddo. I'm gonna run you to LAX myself." When we got there I crawled out of his limo (which he drove himself so his driver could continue to party) and he started throwing out my baggage. Some schmuck walked up and said: "Hey, BOY -- you'll have to carry these bags to the counter." I said "You asshole! Don't you know who this IS???!!!" Jimmy turned around and shushed me, whispering: "Shut up. The only way you'll make this plane is if they think I'm the driver for the woman they no doubt think you are -- Grace Slick's drunken sister. I've played every juke joint in the South & sure as hell been called worse than BOY."
Very sadly, Jimmy passed away a few years back. Like Roger Miller, he had fought the battle against throat cancer since the early 80s. And they are both sorely missed.
Written By: Patsi Bale Cox email@example.com